Thoughtful, inquisitive, and eclectic, each issue presents a carefully curated selection of articles exploring technology in society, signals of changes, and prospective futures.
Brings things to my attention that I don’t see linked anywhere else, & has perfected a tone that I’d call “curiously critical”: neither 🤩 nor 😤, but simply… 🤓—Robin Sloan
[Sentiers] is about imagining, critiquing, and building futures. I’m always impressed with what Patrick surfaces and I bet you’ll be too.—Kristoffer at Naive Weekly
Sentiers is my regular go-to, thanks to its mesh of design, economics, sustainability, organizational theory, and business.—Ana Andjelic
No.183 — Jul 25, 2021
No.182 — Jul 18, 2021
Directions & guiding lights
Sentiers is a newsletter, “library,” series of articles, and professional practice for me, Patrick Tanguay. To learn more about all of that, there’s the obligatory about page.
In terms of what I actually write about and why you might be interested in subscribing, the newsletter used to be described as “Covering a very eclectic mix of topics, often having to do with socio-technical transformations, but also cities, systems, hybrids, the environment, history, scifi, design, and many other ideas that matter.”
Although I’ve since simplified the description and put forward a focus on the practices and methods around foresight / forecasting / futures and the fuzzy borders it shares with science fiction and design, it’s still very much about all of the topics highlighted above. In all of these fields we can glean some signals of change, hints about where things are going, lessons from the past, more diverse perspectives to help us in our sensemaking, and, well, just fascinating and intriguing stuff to ponder.
One of the reasons for putting more emphasis on the futures aspect, other than personal interest, is that it’s a useful frame or lens to contemplate everything else, and at this juncture in our history, where there are so many challenges, risks, and opportunities, talking about the futures we want is one of the most important things we can do. To wit, these three quotes, in a way the guiding lights of my curation every week.
Talk, loudly and frequently and in detail, about the future you want. You can’t manifest what you don’t share.
Remember to imagine and craft the worlds you cannot live without, just as you dismantle the ones you cannot live within.
To begin to free ourselves, the first thing we need to do is to see ourselves again as historical actors, as people who can make a difference in the course of world events. This is exactly what the militarization of history is trying to take away. The ultimate hidden truth of the world is that it is something we make. And could just as easily make differently.
—David Graeber (1961–2020)
If you browse around the site, you’ll see that “technology” is often mentioned. Sometimes it’s a shorthand for high tech, the last couple of decades of largely electronic inventions, everything coming out of Silicon Valley, and everything happening online. But more broadly, and certainly something I imperfectly succeed at, I try to take inspiration from the great Ursula Franklin for my understanding of what technology is.
Technology involves organization, procedures, symbols, new words, equations, and, most of all, a mindset. […]
Technology has built the house in which we all live, today there is hardly any human activity that does not occur within this house. […]
In the broadest sense of the term, the here and now is our environment, that is, all that is around us—the ever-changing overlay of nature, the built environment, the institutional and social structures within which human activities take place, as well as the activities themselves—‘the way things are done around here.’